Study Guide

Field 003: English Language Arts

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Sample Selected-Response Questions

Competency 0001
Reading Literature

1. Read the passages below from The Awakening, a novel by Kate Chopin, and The Red Badge of Courage, a novel by Stephen Crane, then answer the question that follows.

A certain light was beginning to dawn dimly within her,—the light which, showing the way, forbids it.

At that early period it served but to bewilder her. It moved her to dreams, to thoughtfulness, to the shadowy anguish which had overcome her the midnight when she had abandoned herself to tears.

In short, Mrs. Pontellier was beginning to realize her position in the universe as a human being, and to recognize her relations as an individual to the world within and about her. This may seem like a ponderous weight of wisdom to descend upon the soul of a young woman of twenty-eight—perhaps more wisdom than the Holy Ghost is usually pleased to vouchsafe to any woman.

But the beginning of things, of a world especially, is necessarily vague, tangled, chaotic, and exceedingly disturbing. How few of us ever emerge from such beginning! How many souls perish in its tumult!

—Kate Chopin, The Awakening

He was emerged from his struggles, with a large sympathy for the machinery of the universe. With his new eyes, he could see that the secret and open blows which were being dealt about the world with such heavenly lavishness were in truth blessings. It was a deity laying about him with the bludgeon of correction.

His loud mouth against these things had been lost as the storm ceased. He would no more stand upon places high and false, and denounce the distant planets. He beheld that he was tiny but not inconsequent to the sun. In the space-wide whirl of events no grain like him would be lost.

With this conviction came a store of assurance. He felt a quiet manhood, nonassertive but of sturdy and strong blood. He knew that he would no more quail before his guides wherever they should point. He had been to touch the great death, and found that, after all, it was but the great death and was for others. He was a man.

—Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage

Which paragraph best describes how the two passages approach a similar theme?

  1. Opposing concepts of adulthood are explored in The Awakening and The Red Badge of Courage. Twenty-eight-year-old Mrs. Pontellier retreats to a world of fantasy and melodrama to avoid burdensome but essential responsibilities. In contrast, the young protagonist of The Red Badge of Courage demonstrates emotional maturity by accepting the responsibilities that accompany adulthood.
  2. The narrators of The Awakening and The Red Badge of Courage illustrate divergent views on how gender influences self-awareness. Whereas the narrator in The Awakening suggests that young women who gain self-awareness experience "shadowy anguish" and "exceedingly disturbing" chaos, the narrator in The Red Badge of Courage suggests that for young men, self-awareness leads to assurance of their invincibility.
  3. In The Awakening, Kate Chopin develops the theme of self-delusion by cynically portraying Mrs. Pontellier as foolish and naïve as she struggles with "a ponderous weight of wisdom." Stephen Crane develops a similar theme in The Red Badge of Courage by ironically describing a protagonist who believes he is "tiny but not inconsequent to the sun."
  4. As they question their individual roles in the universe, characters in The Awakening and The Red Badge of Courage demonstrate a fundamental conflict between religious faith and secular philosophy. Mrs. Pontellier receives "more wisdom than the Holy Ghost is usually pleased to vouchsafe to any woman," and the protagonist of The Red Badge of Courage recognizes "a deity laying about him with the bludgeon of correction."
Correct Response: B. This question requires the examinee to demonstrate how two texts from the same period treat similar themes. The narrator in The Awakening describes Mrs. Pontellier's feelings with negative words and phrases such as "ponderous weight," "vague," "chaotic," and "dimly," while the narrator in The Red Badge of Courage uses phrases that suggest authority, such as "sturdy and strong blood" and "no more quail." While the narrator in The Awakening portrays a woman struggling for clarity, the narrator in The Red Badge of Courage shows a young man growing assured in his self-awareness.

Competency 0002
Reading Informational Text

2. Read the passage below from "Our Animal Natures," an essay by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and Kathryn Bowers, then answer the question that follows.

The more I learned, the more a tantalizing question started creeping into my thoughts: Why don't we human doctors routinely cooperate with animal experts?

We used to. A century or two ago, in some rural communities, animals and humans were cared for by the same practitioner. And physicians and veterinarians both claim the same 19th-century doctor, William Osler, as a father of their fields. However, animal and human medicine began a decisive split in the late 1800s. Increasing urbanization meant that fewer people relied on animals to make a living. Motorized vehicles began pushing work animals out of daily life.

Most physicians see animals and their illnesses as somehow "different." Humans have their diseases. Animals have theirs. The human medical establishment has an undeniable, though unspoken, bias against veterinary medicine.

While it rankles when M.D.'s condescend, most vets simply take a resigned approach to their more glamorous counterparts on the human side. Several have even confided to me a veterinarians' inside joke: What do you call a physician? A veterinarian who treats only one species.1

Which assumption underlies the authors' argument in the passage?

  1. Veterinarians are highly educated, well-skilled medical professionals.
  2. Pet owners are equally concerned about the health of their family members and of their pets.
  3. The medical profession is a microcosm of the animal kingdom.
  4. Physicians in urban areas are more highly valued than physicians in rural areas.
Correct Response: A. This question requires the examinee to delineate and evaluate the argument in a text. The passage's first paragraph expresses the central investigation of the text: "Why don't we human doctors routinely cooperate with animal experts?" By providing historical examples of how entwined animal and human medical professionals once were, the authors suggest that both professionals are trained and intelligent in their given fields and, in fact, those professionals "claim the same...William Osler, as a father of their fields."

Competency 0003
Writing Arguments

3. Read the introductory paragraph below from the first draft of an essay, then answer the question that follows.

Wage discrimination based on gender has been illegal in the United States since passage of the Equal Pay Act in 1963. Nevertheless, in 2010 U.S. women workers earned an average of 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. The gender wage gap must be closed. Closing the gender wage gap would give women the wages they are legally entitled to while stimulating the economy at local, state, and national levels.

Which paragraph would provide the most relevant evidence to develop the writer's claim fairly and thoroughly in the essay?

  1. The Declaration of Purpose of the 1963 Equal Pay Act states that in "industries engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce," gender-based wages have negative results such as reductions in employees' living standards and increases in labor disputes, leading to obstruction of "the free flow of goods in commerce."
  2. Many women may not realize that they do not receive equal pay for equal work. According to a 2010 wage transparency survey conducted by the Institute for Women's Policy Research, 61 percent of private sector employees reported that they were discouraged or prohibited from discussing wage and salary information at work. Federal government wages are more transparent, and the federal government's gender wage gap is half that of the economy as a whole.
  3. Women in New York State lose a total of $24.3 billion each year due to the wage gap and more than $600 billion over their careers (Goudreau, 2012). The income discrepancy would pay their mortgage and utility bills for 4 months. If New York State women deposited the amount of the wage discrepancy into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) for a period of 25 years, each woman could save an additional $750,000 toward retirement.
  4. In 1998, Lilly Ledbetter filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against her employer of 19 years because she was earning thousands of dollars less than her male counterparts. The Supreme Court declared her lawsuit invalid because she did not file it within 180 days of receiving her first unequal paycheck. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 ensures that an employee can file a lawsuit within 180 days of receiving any paycheck that reflects discriminatory practices.

Correct Response: C. This question requires the examinee to apply knowledge of how to develop claims fairly and thoroughly, supplying the most relevant evidence for each. In the introductory paragraph, the writer claims that if women were to receive wages equally to men, as per their legal entitlements, women would become more viable economic stimulators. By quantifying how much women lose each year ("$24.3 billion"), as well as how far this money would go toward personal financial obligations such as "mortgage and utility bills for 4 months," the writer uses targeted, specific examples that clearly support the claim set out in the introduction.

Competency 0004
Writing Informative and Explanatory Texts

4. A student is developing an analytical essay on the use of imagery in Elizabeth Bishop's poem "The Fish." As part of the essay, the student plans to make the claim that Bishop uses imagery to characterize the fish as dignified. Which excerpt from the poem would best support the student's claim?

  1. Here and there / his brown skin hung in strips / like ancient wallpaper, / and its pattern of darker brown / was like wallpaper: / shapes like full-blown roses / stained and lost through age.
  2. I looked into his eyes / which were far larger than mine / but shallower, and yellowed, / the irises backed and packed / with tarnished tinfoil / seen through the lenses / of old scratched isinglass.
  3. I admired his sullen face, / the mechanism of his jaw, / and then I saw / that from his lower lip / —if you could call it a lip— / grim, wet, and weaponlike, / hung five old pieces of fish-line
  4. and a fine black thread / still crimped from the strain and snap / when it broke and he got away. / Like medals with their ribbons / frayed and wavering, / a five-haired beard of wisdom.

    Excerpt from "The Fish" from THE COMPLETE POEMS 1927–1979 by Elizabeth Bishop. Copyright © 1979, 1983 by Alice Helen Methfessel. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. CAUTION: Users are warned that this work is protected under copyright laws and downloading is strictly prohibited. The right to reproduce or transfer the work via any medium must be secured with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

Correct Response: D. This question requires the examinee to apply knowledge of how to draw evidence from a work of literature to support analysis and reflection. Examining the connotations of Bishop's diction and imagery reveals her attention to visual and tactile detail. For example, by comparing the fishing line to a "fine black thread," Bishop evokes the slenderness of the fishing line as well as its quality. Images of "medals with their ribbons" and "a five-haired beard of wisdom" suggest both honor and sagacity.

Competency 0005
Writing Narratives

5. A student is developing a personal essay about learning to bake kolacky, an eastern European pastry. Which of the following versions of a sentence from the essay uses sensory language to convey a vivid impression of the student's experience?

  1. I stood by my grandfather's side, watching him make kolacky, my all-time favorite pastry, trying to imitate his technique on a practice batch.
  2. I learned to bake kolacky from my grandparents, who let me help knead the dough, peel and seed the fruit, and carefully fold the dough over the fruit filling.
  3. I inhaled the buttery aroma of apricot kolacky that filled my grandparents' kitchen, basking in the warmth of home-baked pastries and my grandparents' love.
  4. From a very young age, I loved to sit in my grandparents' kitchen, watching them prepare kolacky, a pastry filled with fruit preserves.
Correct Response: C. This question requires the examinee to apply knowledge of how to use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of a character in a piece of narrative writing. The phrases "buttery aroma" and "basking in the warmth" appeal to the senses of smell and touch, respectively. The inclusion of these sensory details helps to paint a vivid picture of the student's experience learning to bake kolacky.

Competency 0006
Researching to Build and Present Knowledge

6. After beginning research for an informative essay, a student is having trouble finding an answer to the research question, "What was the impact of the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team's move to Los Angeles in 1958?" Which alternative research question would most likely lead to relevant information?

  1. What was the economy like in Brooklyn before and after the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles?
  2. How did baseball fans in Brooklyn react when the Dodgers announced they were moving to Los Angeles?
  3. Why did the Brooklyn Dodgers move to Los Angeles in spite of having such a loyal Brooklyn fan base?
  4. Which baseball teams did Brooklyn residents support after the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles?
Correct Response: A. This question requires the examinee to apply knowledge of how to generate a research question, and how to narrow or broaden inquiry. The writer begins with an overly-broad question, as evidenced in the phrase "what was the impact." When the writer refines the question to focus on the economic impact that the Dodgers' migration had on Brooklyn, the idea of "impact" is clarified and refined. In addition, including a "before and after" clause in the question will allow the writer to seek out information for use in a comparative data analysis.

Competency 0007
Speaking and Listening

7. A teacher is planning to present information to colleagues about a new school policy intended to reduce student truancy. Given the teacher's audience and purpose, which strategy would be most effective for the teacher to use?

  1. beginning the presentation with an extensive review of the school's current policy
  2. presenting visual representations of data that show national truancy rates
  3. concluding the presentation by briefly restating key points for listeners to remember
  4. pausing during the presentation to ask listeners to share ideas for reducing truancy
Correct Response: C. This question requires the examinee to demonstrate knowledge of how to orally present information and convey a clear perspective using organization, development, and content that are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task. Because the teacher is addressing an audience of colleagues whose role will be to implement the new school policy, a "[brief] restating [of] key points for listeners to remember" will best help the audience put this new policy into practice.

Competency 0008

8. Read the sentence below, then answer the question that follows.

I was told to take the afternoon train, but when I got to the station I found out there is no such thing, so I missed an important meeting.

In the sentence, use of the passive voice achieves which effect?

  1. expressing feelings of confusion
  2. conveying a sense of entitlement
  3. indicating a known information source
  4. suggesting a wish to avoid responsibility
Correct Response: D. This question requires the examinee to demonstrate knowledge of the form and use of verbs in the active and passive voice, including how to use voice of verbs to achieve particular effects. By using the passive voice in the first clause of the sentence ("I was told to take the afternoon train"), the writer suggests that the unidentified provider of this information is responsible for any harm it caused. Beginning the last clause with "so" implies a cause-effect relationship between taking the afternoon train and missing the meeting. Use of the passive voice allows the writer to suggest that incorrect direction by an unidentified party, rather than a misunderstanding or error on the writer's part, caused the writer to miss the meeting.


1Excerpt(s) from ZOOBIQUITY: WHAT ANIMALS CAN TEACH US ABOUT HEALTH AND THE SCIENCE OF HEALING by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and Kathryn Bowers, copyright © 2012 by Zoobiquity, LLC. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved.